Want to write a book? Be like Graham Greene

Want to write a book? Be like Graham Greene (without the whoring, drinking and attempted suicide).

According to a new autobiography, The Unquiet Englishman, no matter where Graham Greene was in his travels or what he was doing, he would always write 500 words a day. He would count them and stop in the middle of a sentence if he reached his word count. And then he would put his notebook away.

I’m nowhere near prolific or successful as Graham Greene, but when I’m in the throes of a new draft, I make a word goal for myself. The word count has to be small enough so that I’ll actually do it. and large enough so that I make some real progress on my WIP. Depending on how busy I am, it’s been anything from 350 words to 1200 words.  If I accomplish my word goal in the morning, then I’m off the hook for the rest of the day. If I’m busy all day, then I have to fit it in after dinner. It’s a commitment. And I’ve written quite a few books that way.

500 words probably sounds like a measly amount. Just 2 pages really. But every day, writing just that little amount added up to many books for Graham Greene. And amazing movies.

He did not live an exemplary life in other ways (the drinking and whoring, etc.), but he did live a life of adventure. And he wrote one of my favorite movies along the way: The Third Man.

So–want to write a book? Just start. Write 500 words a day whether you feel like it or not. Do it every day. And after 6 months, you will indeed have the first draft of a book. Minus the pickled liver and STDs (as long as you stay away from the rest of his hobbies).

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